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REM Week – From the Vault

hindulovegodsThe latest in our series of unbelievably wonderful live events takes place Saturday 20th April at the 13th Note in Glasgow. The event is headlined by It Crawled From The South, a celebration of IRS-years era REM. We’re marking the occasion with a special REM week here on Extreme Listening Mode. Today, we look at a productive  partnership from back in that period.

For a band with such a delicious sense of mystery about them, REM weren’t slow to help out their fellow musos during the 80s. For a while, it seemed it was compulsory for at least one record in the Melody Maker to have featured a member of the band. By the decades close, their quality control was being called into question, with NME nailing it brilliantly by describing the raggle-taggle of acts they guested with as ‘the sad friends of REM.’

However, you certainly couldn’t accuse Warren Zevon of that. One of the US’ great singer-songwriters, he was recovering from a long and successful  battle with alcoholism and looking for a band to record his 1987 comeback album Sentimental Hygiene with. Having loved REMs first two records, some calls were made and, lo and behold, it came to pass that Mills, Buck and Berry backed him on the whole album. It wasn’t always easy – Zevon’s perfectionism clashing with the band’s much freer approach caused a lot of tension – but getting to play with fellow guests Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley and Neil Young made it worthwhile for the Athens mob. The album stands now as one of the best US rock records of the decade. Here’s the only track featuring Stipe, the beautifully sardonic ‘Bad Karma’.


During the sessions, the band repeated their usual trick of getting heroically drunk in the studio (except Warren, of course) and recording what came out. What did emerge was a collection of blues covers and a stab at Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’. It’s a nice but utterly inessential curio that was released as an eponymous album by the Hindu Love Gods.



ELM Presents…It Crawled From The South takes place on Sat 20th April at 13th Note, Glasgow. Click here for tickets.


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